College

UMass Amherst sees fourth racial incident in two months, prompts student-organized march

“It’s difficult to catch those folks because they’re doing it at 2 in the morning when they’re coming in, oftentimes under the influence or just goofing off late at night.”

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff
UMass NAACP organized a ‘Be Revolutionary March’ Thursday to the Whitmore Administration Building to call for more accountability from the UMass administration. Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Another racist incident targeting Black students at UMass Amherst occurred Sept. 24, which prompted the UMass National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to organize a protest demanding change and accountability from the university. 

According to Boston 25 News, the protest was planned after word got out that racist remarks had been written on a Black student’s whiteboard hanging on the door of their dorm room in Crampton Hall. UMass Amherst Police Department (UMPD) has been investigating, trying to identify the person who wrote these remarks.

“Having someone scribble something sexist, racist, or homophobic on a whiteboard or a hall or a bathroom is something that happens,” Nefertiti Walker, vice chancellor for diversity, equity, and inclusion, told the Globe in a phone interview Friday. “It’s difficult to catch those folks because they’re doing it at 2 in the morning when they’re coming in, oftentimes under the influence or just goofing off late at night.”

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This event marks the fourth racially targeted incident toward Black students at UMass Amherst in the past two months. Just last month, a racist email was sent to many students in Black-centered student groups, who have also received anti-Black hate messages via their ‘Contact Us’ form on their websites. 

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“I don’t think what’s happening at UMass, these moments of racist behavior or racists acts, are significantly different than what’s happening at other predominantly white institutions,” Walker told the Globe. “These things are happening in other spaces. I really just think we’re being very transparent.”

Following last month’s incident, UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy and University of Massachusetts President Martin Meehan released statements condemning these attacks and showing support for those who were racially targeted, as well as committing to action items of a Black Joy, Black Healing, and Black Justice forum; the launch of a Black Advisory Council; and increased funding for the Center of Racial Justice.

Their words, however, were not enough as racial incidents continued to occur and Black students felt unheard. UMass NAACP organized a ‘Be Revolutionary March’ Thursday to the Whitmore Administration Building to call for more accountability from the UMass administration.

Over 100 students joined the march, many holding signs that read ‘Black Students Matter,’ and the group presented a list of demands to the administrators at the building, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian reported. Several students held speeches outside the building while others entered, attempting to present administrators with the list of demands. 

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“Anonymous incidents of this kind are difficult to solve when there are no witnesses,” a spokesperson at UMass Amherst’s Office of News and Media Relations told Boston 25 News. “Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to report it to UMPD.”

UMass Amherst also told Western Mass News that the student who was the subject of the graffiti on their whiteboard declined to speak to a UMPD officer. 

“The university rejects bigotry in any form and is committed to investigating hateful acts,” they said. 

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